F-35s, B-52s and howitzers: Royal Marines take on Australia's biggest military exercise
Royal Marines have taken part in Exercise Talisman Sabre – Australia's biggest military exercise.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, overseas troops were limited to 2,000 in Australia during the two-week exercise – which stretched along several hundred miles of the northern Queensland coast.
Personnel from Bravo Company, 40 Commando, took part in scenarios alongside those from the host nation, the US and Japan.
Firepower was also provided by 17,000 allied nations' personnel from Canada, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.
It came in the form of tanks, F-35s, assault ships, missiles, B-52s, howitzers, gunships, bombs, cannons and mortars.
Gunner Sam Rees, who's attached to 40 Commando, relished the opportunity and said "it was good working with the different nations".
"Training with naval gunfire – which I don't think I’ll have the opportunity to do again – was really good," he said.
"I was calling in the missiles and the rockets on the helicopters – I'd say it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The exercise culminated in a dawn beach assault and attack on the coastal town of Forrest Beach and the small town of Ingham.
Locals watched the silhouettes of landing craft ferrying troops and kit ashore from HMAS Canberra and HMAS Choules as the sun rose over the eastern seaboard.
Red, blue and green lights on the shore – carefully positioned by the pre-landing force – guided the craft to their disembarkation points.
Once ashore, the force was expected to push 10 miles inland, either on foot or in armoured personnel carriers landed by the amphibious force, and capture an airfield at Ingham to serve as an 'air head' for future operations.
Further down the coast at Bowen, Royal Marines accompanied Australian and Japanese soldiers in a night assault on a former coal processing plant.
They then cleared the town's showground of 'enemy' forces after US marines had seized the local airfield.
The goal of Talisman Sabre is to make sure that whenever the participants are working together, they do so seamlessly – probably never more important than in an amphibious assault.
Cover image: A Royal Marine of 40 Commando is silhouetted against the rising sun while taking part in Australia's biggest military exercise (Picture: Royal Navy).